Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is advising parents who are sending their children to vacation camps to get them vaccinated against covid19. He said there are still vaccines available for the five-11-year age group.
He said regular childhood vaccinations against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, yellow fever, and the like, were back to normal levels required for herd immunity after a shortfall earlier in the year with the exception of polio.
“The polio vaccination rate is at 94 per cent and we are looking for a further 200 children to bring us back up to 95 per cent. Polio was recently found in sewage in London, which is a bit of a concern.
“The anti-vax messages around covid19 had the effect of frightening parents away from vaccination in general, as laypersons don’t make the distinction between covid19 vaccines and other vaccines, and this is a worldwide trend. So now we have to work extra hard to find these 200 children to vaccinate against polio.
“What we look forward to with the new school term is the return to the tried and proven system where to get into a primary school you have to show evidence of your vaccination status. We urge parents to ignore the noise and misinformation and disinformation from those who don’t have your best interests at heart. We have been vaccinating children for these childhood diseases for decades with no issue.”
He said the Health Ministry would monitor the data between now and September to determine if children would have to be masked when schools reopened.
Deyalsingh said the current daily rate of vaccination against covid19 was very low, but had previously been at a steady rate up to June 30.
“Up until June 30, we were giving out 500-700 doses per day. Yesterday we gave out 47 first doses, and first doses and booster shots came up to 135.
“I’d like to remind the population that adults can still be boosted with J&J and Sinopharm. We are not stopping the vaccination programme, and we’re asking people to make an informed decision.
“With the dropping of the mask mandate on July 17, the 49 per cent of the population who are unvaccinated, you are placing yourselves in jeopardy by not being vaccinated.”
He said 48,000 of the Pfizer vaccines received in the second donated tranche had to be destroyed when they expired on June 30.
Asked about complaints of a shortage of CDAP drugs, Deyalsingh said there were sufficient stocks of the drugs present in TT, but pharmacies were not putting in their orders on time.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said there are over 6,000 cases of monkeypox in 58 countries, with new African countries seeing cases outside the normal endemic areas. He said the World Health Organization will be reconvening its expert panel on or before July 18, given the rate of spread, to determine if a public health emergency of international concern is constituted. He said the Health Ministry is still in talks with the Pan-American Health Organization and the US Centres for Disease Control to acquire supplies of the vaccine for TT.